September 25, 2012

Representing Multiplication Multiple Ways

Now, for some reason the IPG (Instructional Planning Guide) in my district says to start 4th grade with arrays, factors, and multiples.  A specialist explained the logic to me once, but I'm still not sure I fully understand.  Place value seems like a more natural place to begin...but... I don't always get to make those decisions, so we are starting with arrays.

Did you notice that I said arrays, factors, and multiples and not multiplication/division concepts?  Well, that's because THAT unit comes later.  Makes perfect sense, right?

I confuses me too.

So, as any good teacher would do.  I tweak.  I start by finding out what they already know about multiplication.  Novel idea, huh?

We started our unit with a quick brainstorm of multiplication and I was very impressed with my results. Here is the list my students came up with:
  • 12 x 12 = 144 - Those are called facts.
  • Anything times 0 equals 0.
  • Anything times 1 equals itself.
  • 3x4=12 is just like 4x3=12.  We call that a fact family.
  • You can draw a picture of multiplication by using circles and sticks.
  • It is repeated addition. 
  • You can draw it by putting 4 dots down one said, and three dots across and then fill it in. (She knew about an array, but didn't know what it was called.)
  • It is like skip counting.
Sorry for the blurry phone picture.

I must say...well done 3rd grade teachers...WELL DONE!

That is a pretty good list for the first weeks of 4th grade. We spent the next two days talking more and more about arrays. You know...building up our math vocabulary, learning the difference between rows and columns, and finding arrays all over the classroom.

Then, we made our Multiplication Posters to show off what we know.  First, I showed them my example. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture, but it was really nice. I promise.

I wrote in my best handwriting, used different colored headings for each quadrant, organized my array by color (i.e. red row, blue row, etc.), and made my equal groups using all the same kind of stickers.

Then, I let them go. Not one turned out just like mine.

Naturally, many of the arrays were a hodge-podge of colors.

They also used as many different kinds of stickers as possible.  
 Please ignore the incorrect multiplication fact in the upper right corner. *shakes head*

All and all though, the posters turned out pretty great.  It was a great review for kids on multiplication. 

I would love to say that these were 100% my idea, but y'all know...I'm the Teaching Thief.  I combined two terrific ideas I found through blogging and Pinterest. 

First, I pinned this over the summer. (Mine looked a lot more like this.  I'm a rule follower.  My students are clearly more creative. *wink, wink*)

I used this same concept in the past, but only with drawings.  I loved the addition of stickers and food. It made it is WAY more entertaining.  Unfortunately, I don't know who to credit with this marvelous idea, so if it was you, please let me know.

I also found another great idea from Mr. B's Beach Brains.  Um... edible arrays?! Yes, please.

And so...our edible multiplication posters were born.  My kiddos had a blast putting together the posters and they make a really nice display in the classroom. Very colorful and fun!

What activities do you do to review multiplication concepts?



  1. Amanda, my 3rd graders start the first chapter of multiplication tomorrow. I'm definitely stealing some ideas!

    Math is Elementary

  2. I use ironing beads to have the students make arrays. It is interactive, and each students gets to take one home! Here's my post about it. =)

    Third Grade in the First State

  3. I love your multiplication posters! Too cute! We just reviewed our multiplication basic facts. I still have several who just don't know those basic facts!

  4. I love the idea. In fifth grade we start with multiplication and division strategies before reviewing place value, subtraction, and addition. I am finding that we have to go back and review those skills anyway because you need those basic concepts to completely understand multiplication and division. I have never understood why place value isn't first.


  5. This looks like so much fun!!! I am pinning for when I introduce multiplication to my 2nd graders later in the year!!! :-) Hope you're doing great!!! PS- I am requesting pictures of your corgis soon! ;-)

  6. Hi Amanda,

    I have started the year with my third graders with all these same concepts. I love your posters, and will definitely try them in my classroom.

    Learning in the Little Apple

  7. We are beginning multiplication (in 3rd grade) tomorrow and I can't wait to use some of these great ideas! I totally agree anytime that we can incorporate hands-on activities the kids are much more likely to have the idea stick. Adding food though, that's just genius!!! Thanks again!

    :) Nicole
    Tadpole Tidbits

  8. Hi Amanda,
    Love your idea and the posters look great. We start with place value and I think it takes us too long to get to multiplication. However, we need to do lots of review with place value as they are sometimes still confused.
    Unit 2 starts next Wednesday and includes factors, multiples and arrays - perfect timing.
    Thanks for sharing and I 'pinned'!

  9. Anything with food and my kids are happy lol!

    BTW you've been boo-ed. Come check out my post and participate if you can!
    Adventures in Room 5

  10. I just want to say: YOU ROCK, THANK YOU, and WOW~ this is definitely going to help my kiddos. :)

  11. I LOVE this lesson. My math class is really struggling with this concept. Also, you have been BOO-ed! Come check it out.

    Chickadee Jubilee

  12. You've been BOO-ed! Check out my blog for more details.

    :) Nicole
    Tadpole Tidbits

  13. This is a great project. I was wondering if you have a rubric for this project. The children really enjoyed it and wanted to complete another one for fun!! Of course the best part was eating the snacks.

    If you have a rubric please email me at

    Thank you


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